A Merlin in Southwestern Montana

/, Birds, Centennial Valley, Merlins, Montana/A Merlin in Southwestern Montana

Merlin lifting offMerlin lifting off – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Last September I was able to observe and photograph a Merlin in southwestern Montana over a period of several days. I am presuming it was the same bird because I found it in the same general location in the mornings and late afternoons. It didn’t always cooperate by being in good light or even on the best side of the road but I think seeing and photographing a Merlin is great any time of the day or location.

I was only able to get a few action photos of the Merlin and this is one of them. I wish that the falcon’s wings had been in a down sweep when I clicked the shutter because that would have eliminated the shadows on the tops of the wings. But I love the great look at the face and how those talons are just barely touching the fence post.

Merlin preening in morning lightMerlin preening in morning light – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Three days later I found the Merlin preening on a fence post in morning light while preening and looking directly at me. The warm tones in the background compliment the warm tones in the falcon and that raised foot is quite nice too!

A Merlin facing the westA Merlin facing the west – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Later on the same day that I photographed the Merlin preening I found it again perched on a fence post looking towards the west in soft light not too long before sunset. I wish the post it had perched on were older, more weathered or even more natural looking but when it comes to Merlins I will take the opportunities to photograph them where I find them.

Life is good.


There is a natural but hidden M in the first image, can you see it?


  1. Elephant's Child March 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    M is for magic.
    Thank you.

  2. Patty Chadwick March 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    The bird in the second frame looks like it’s holding what an English friend would call “a proppa cuppa tay”….

  3. Kathy Duchene March 14, 2016 at 11:14 am


  4. Utahbooklover March 14, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Wonderful images Mia. Got a camara review email for the new digital mirrorless 4K-shooting Sony A6300. Here is the link if anyone wants to check it out: http://iwishicouldfly.com/iwishicouldfly/journal/html/031116.html

  5. Liz Cormack March 14, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Yes, “M is for Mia” is formed by the toes of his feet. Cool! Great shots, Mia.

  6. Bob mcpherson March 14, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Absolutely beautiful Mia

  7. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver March 14, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Nice to wake up to the Merlin Mia. Thanks for your good work (nice prose style too :)!

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